Everyone knows that a last will is a document that is used to express your wishes with regard to the distribution of your assets to your loved ones after you pass away. However, there are other types of wills as well, and they do not all serve the same purpose.
Because a last will is used to direct the distribution of property, there are those who would assume that a living will has something to do with asset transfers. In fact, a living will is an advance health care directive that is used to state your health care preferences.
To understand the value of a living will, think back to the highly publicized case of Terri Schiavo. This young woman fell into a vegetative state when she was still in her 20s and the doctors considered it to be irreversible.
Her husband wanted the feeding tubes that were keeping her alive removed after she had been in this condition for a number of years. Terri’s parents disagreed with this course of action, and a bitter court battle ensued. Had Terri executed a living will stating her preferences, her own wishes would have been known and honored and there would have beeen no cause for acrimony among her loved ones.
On the other hand, a living trust does in fact facilitate the transfer of assets after the death of the grantor of the trust. Living trusts are very appealing to many people because the distribution of assets takes place outside of the costly and time-consuming probate process.
Each of these documents can be a part of a well constructed estate plan. If you are interested in learning more, the next step would be to arrange for an appointment to speak with an experienced and certified San Jose area estate planning attorney. Our office offers free estate planning seminars and workshops and we encourage you to attend one of our upcoming events.
Roy has an undergraduate degree in accounting from Indiana State University, and a Juris Doctor degree from Indiana University. He graduated from law school in 1973. Roy was a member of the legal fraternity of Phi Delta Phi and president of the local chapter at Indiana University Law School in 1972-73. In law school he was a recipient of the Dean Faust Award and received awards and honors in income taxation and estate and gift taxation.